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Peter O’Brien and Andy Pike

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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

Financialising City Statecraft and Infrastructure addresses the struggles of national and local states to fund, finance and govern urban infrastructure. It develops fresh thinking on financialisation and city statecraft to explain the socially and spatially uneven mixing of managerial, entrepreneurial and financialised city governance in austerity and limited decentralisation across England. As urban infrastructure fixes for the London global city-region risk undermining national ‘rebalancing’ efforts in the UK, city statecraft in the rest of the country is having uneasily to combine speculation, risk-taking and prospective venturing with co-ordination, planning and regulation.
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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

Infrastructure systems provide the services we all rely upon for our everyday lives. Our relationships with infrastructures have been disturbed by increasing and more sophisticated demands, new technologies and geographical unevenness in the availability, quality and cost of urban infrastructure provision. Public concerns have raised fundamental questions about who owns, runs and pays for city infrastructure. The book aims to better understand the engagements of financialisation with city governance and infrastructure and identify its implications for urban and regional development, politics and policy. Outlining the recent rise and “crisis” of city infrastructure, it argues that understanding contemporary financialisation is critical to explain its funding, financing and governing. Understanding financialisation as a socially and spatially variegated process, national and local states are subject to as well as leading this financialising process, and it is generating wider and longer-term ramifications for development, politics and policy in cities and regions.

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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

City infrastructure is defined and conceptualised, situating the challenge of its funding, financing and governing in historical and geographical context. Critical review of existing work on city infrastructure financialisation identifies key gaps and constructs an understanding that recognises its social, spatial and institutional composition, unevenness, constraints, and ramifications. Engagement with financialising city infrastructure governance questions frameworks based upon archetypes and historical transformations given their limitations in explaining the current episode of mixing and mutating entrepreneurial, financialised and managerial urban governance. Financialisation is distilled to identify its characteristic dimensions and a new framework is provided for interpreting the financialising of city infrastructure and governance.

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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

A new theorisation is introduced to explain city governance and infrastructure based upon a geographical political economy conception of city statecraft. Critically reviewing Jim Bulpitt’s original statecraft ideas and their recent take-up in local, regional and urban studies, it forges a more integrated geographical, political and economic understanding, opens up the sub-national level beyond the “low politics” of local government, and focuses upon the agency of state actors across multiple geographical levels and units. City statecraft explains how distinct governing forms, practices and arrangements are mixed and mutated involving national and local state and other actors in particular temporal, spatial and institutional settings. Operationalising this approach to researching financialising city statecraft and infrastructure, the critical case of England in the UK as a lens onto wider processes in an international setting is explained and justified.

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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

The construction of the UK’s distinctive “modern infrastructural ideal” is outlined marked by its highly centralised, top-down and national framework of urban managerialism, Keynesian welfarism and spatial Keynesianism. The fragmentation of city infrastructure provision under “splintering urbanism” is explained in relation to urban entrepreneurialism, liberalisation, privatisation and financialisation. Focusing upon the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the national and city prioritisation of infrastructure as a focus for economic recovery, growth and modernisation is set out. National and local statecraft and restructuring is being driven by austerity, limited decentralisation and the new informal governance of deal-making and deals. The financialising process is being shaped by the city statecraft of national and local government alongside financial actors and mediated by the UK’s highly centralised and risk-averse governance structures. The geographies of recent infrastructure investment are detailed, marked by a spatially skewed national and London global city-region orientation and uneven patchwork of collective provision.

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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

A recent public policy innovation is recasting governance relations between national, local and financial actors for infrastructure funding and financing. Introduced in over 30 cities and city-regions across the UK from 2011, City Deals are a new form of urban governance and infrastructure investment based upon negotiated central–local government agreements on decentralised powers, responsibilities and resources. The origins, anatomy and roll-out of City Deals is explained. Through its managerialist institutions and conservative, risk-averse administrative culture and “official mind”, the highly centralised UK state has exerted continued authority and constrained the financialising of city statecraft and infrastructure in the City Deals. In this tightly circumscribed setting, city statecraft has been mixing entrepreneurial and financialised kinds of governance with established managerial practices and institutional forms.

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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

Within international debates about public asset ownership, management, governance and privatisation, financialisation, decentralisation and austerity are compelling national and local state actors into more “commercial” statecraft in an ongoing and pressing search to generate new capital and revenue resources. This uneven financialising of city statecraft has opened up channels for the entry and influence of financial actors with new relations, market incentives and financial practices. Yet, city government agency is provoking national government and financial actor concerns about risk taking, speculation and competition for assets using relatively low interest rate UK state-backed funds. City statecraft involves a socially and spatially uneven range of strategies, rationales, asset definitions, institutional models and practices. Mixing managerialism, entrepreneurialism and financialism, city statecraft is wrestling with the speculative leverage as well as long-term ownership and management of urban infrastructure assets in UK cities. Uneven geographies of public wealth are the result.

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Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney

The London global city-region’s political-economic dominance in the UK as the main engine of national economic growth and tax revenue generation underpins its integral role in generating and reproducing geographical inequalities in city infrastructure provision. A spatially skewed national infrastructure narrative and imperative have been constructed and articulated by national and London city-region statecraft with financial institutions. Infrastructure fixes devised by international, national and city actors are mixing entrepreneurialism, financialism and managerialism in attempts to resolve the capital’s growth constraints. The resulting scale and increasing cost burden upon the UK and city-regional state and markedly uneven national distribution of public resources risks undermining national state aims for spatial rebalancing. Other cities in the UK face intense financial constraints under austerity with limited decentralised powers and resources to address their city infrastructure needs, fuelling geographical inequalities across the UK.